Measuring Success:Improving theEffectiveness ofCorrectional Facilities

Measuring Success:Improving the Effectivenessof Correctional Facilities

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThe Institute is grateful to the various correctional professionals who provided their input, including WardensJim Frawner, Greg Shirley, Rich Gansheimer, Scott Yates and Ray Terry. In addition, we wish to especially thankAl Murphy and J.C. Conner for their thoughtful and provocative comments which helped sharpen the pointsraised by the paper.We especially thank the external reviewers who critiqued this document. Their participation has enhanced thevalue of the information for policy makers and colleagues working in correctional environments.Gerald Gaes, Ph.D., Visiting Scientist, National Institute of Justice and former Director of the Federal Bureauof Prisons, Office of Research & Evaluation and author of many reports and publications, including a recentseminal book titled Measuring Prison Performance: Government Privatization and AccountabilityA. T. Wall, Director, Rhode Island Department of CorrectionsRobert Olding, Ph.D., Associate Dean, Human Services Programs, College of Health and Human Services,University of PhoenixMike Janus, former Privatization Bureau Chief, Federal Bureau of PrisonsWe also extend thanks to the various MTC Executive staff who contributed their understanding and knowledgeto the project. Finally, we recognize the valuable guidance and feedback on this project from Roberts T. Jones,President, MTC Institute as well as the comments and observations from MTC Chairman of the Board, RobertMarquardt, Ph.D. and President & CEO, Scott Marquardt whose input helped make this document stronger.Measuring Success: Improving the Effectiveness of Correctional FacilitiesPublished by MTC Institute. Copyright May 2006.Comments are appreciated and should be directed to Carl Nink, Executive Director at:MTC Institute500 North Marketplace Drive P.O. Box 10 Centerville, UT 84014(801) 693-2870 Fax: (801) mManagement & Training Corporation (MTC) is an international corporation dedicated to helping peoplerealize their learning potential. MTC creates nurturing environments in which education is encouraged andrecognized. MTC manages and operates 25 Job Corps centers in 18 states for the U.S. Department of Labor,preparing disadvantaged youth for meaningful careers. MTC also operates privatized correctional facilitiesaround the world with approximately 9,700 beds under contract. The MTC Institute is the research divisionof MTC, which is dedicated to promoting innovations, exemplary practices, and projecting trends that arerelevant to job training and corrections. The work of the Institute is geared towards a broad audience includingpolicy makers, educators, researchers, practitioners, state and federal officials, workforce development entities,correctional agencies and Job Corps centers.


Measuring Success: Improving theEffectiveness of Correctional FacilitiesINTRODUCTIONWhile headlines are trumpeting decreased crime ratesacross America, a different and troubling story liesjust beneath them: The number of people in prison hascontinued to rise. Overall, the nation’s correctionalpopulation is swelling at 3.2 percent per year; in somestates, the growth rate among those behind bars isdouble the national average, led by Minnesota (up11.4 percent), Idaho (up 11.1 percent), and Georgia(up 8.3 percent). 1Those responsible for state and federal correctionsface grim challenges when attempting to manageconstantly growing populations. Public safetydemands no-escape facilities, and public sympathylies with the corrections staff, whose safety iscritical. But public interest also favors lower taxes,which means fewer and fewer resources can beallotted to each individual incarcerated.Communities across the nation are quietly feelingtheir own pinch. County jails are over-crowded,demanding more staff, more support, more overtime,and more money. Of those removed from the community to state and federal facilities, fully 97 percent willreturn to the community—most in about two years—triggering new public safety concerns.2 Worse, thosewho have been imprisoned are statistically destined(68 percent) to be rearrested for new offenses. Evenif we ignore the fact that so many offenders arereturning to prison, the social cost to families andneighborhoods is enormous. Policing, criminaljustice and court systems, public aid, public defense,and family interventions and support all drive costsconstantly higher, prompting local officials to demand change in the system. Overall, there is growingconcern that the system is ineffective in ensuring the‘punishment’ and behavior modification desired.Three realities have emerged from research across thenation. First, the “lock ‘em and leave ‘em” approach,in which “corrections” means little more than warehousing people, is a political agenda that has failed.It installs a revolving door on correctional facilities,taking in and sending out people who are more likelyto return to prison than to succeed in theircommunities.This method has left correctional professionals withshort funding and inadequate tools to do a task thatthey know can be done successfully.Second, the cost of a non-responsive correctionssystem is staggering. For a comparatively few dollarseach day, funders can provide treatment for alcoholand drug-dependence (which impacts a majority ofthose in prison) and learning which yields new skills,a mentality of self respect once they have success, newtrades, and new opportunities for employment afterrelease. These services cost mere pennies when compared to the dollars wasted on a system that refusesto fund the tools that will provide the appropriatecorrective measures to reduce recidivism.Third, with current metrics not working, both thepublic and the professionals are demanding accountability for outcomes-based management. Correctionsfacilities are increasingly being held to outcomesmeasured by post-release factors including not justrecidivism, but continued education, employment,and the payment of taxes. Taxpayers and correctionsleaders agree that a revolving door wastes both livesand dollars. The “savings” realized by cutting treatment and education are, in fact, the most expensivestrategies imaginable in the world of corrections.THE SYSTEM IS NOT WORKINGOf the prison population in state institutions alone,three out of four offenders have been convicted ofnon-violent crimes and, on average, will be releasedto return to our communities having served anaverage of 16 months behind bars.3 What happensduring their incarceration will have a dramatic impacton the individual, the community, and the costs togovernment.The return of these non-violent offenders to ourcommunity can be either a story of great success or adismal failure depending on the ‘effectiveness’ of thetime spent in prison. Was the ‘punishment’ effective,were they ‘secure’, was the community ‘safe’, did theyreceive ‘humane’ treatment, were they treated fordrug and alcohol ‘dependency’, and was the time wellspent getting the ‘education and training’ needed forthem to succeed on the outside?The fact is that, to date, our corrections system continues to fail in achieving these goals. Within threeyears of their release from prison, about 70 percent ofnonviolent releases are rearrested for new crimes. Infact, if we look back, over 80 percent of these releaseshad prior convictions suggesting the ‘failure’ of theirearlier prison experience.4 They are cycled in and outMTC INSTITUTE1

Measuring Success: Improving theEffectiveness of Correctional Facilitiesof our prisons, recommitting crimes in our communities along the way, and we continue to ignore theimpact of new crimes and the escalating cost of crime,policing, and re-incarceration.It does not and should not have to be this way. Byin large nonviolent offenders are young, they haveknown drug and alcohol dependency, and they areseverely undereducated and unskilled with obvioustraining needs. These offenders need the confidencethat new skills provide giving them legitimate careers.There is clear and convincing evidence that successful,well-managed prisons can make small but significantprogram investments that are both cost effective andwill reduce recidivism by up to 40 percent.5The dimensions for defining a successful correctionalfacility are clear. They must be safe, secure, humane,provide effective correctional programming, and bewell managed. Not only is crime and its associatedcosts reduced, but the overall effect is widespread.6For every dollar spent on treatment for this population, somewhere between three and seven dollarsin savings is gained in crime-related cost savings,increased earnings, and reduced health care expenditures, not to mention improved outcomes for offenders.7 Individuals who participated in correctionaleducation programs earned higher wages uponrelease than non-participants.8 Recidivism rates ofparticipants in correctional education, vocational, andwork programs have been found to be 20 to 40 percentlower than those of non-participants. Participantsin work programs are more likely to be employedfollowing release and have higher earnings than nonparticipants.9 Correctional facilities without effectiveprograms are only adding to the problem.JUSTICE AS A BUSINESSDeb Minardi, Deputy Administrator ofCommunity Corrections Programs, Office ofProbation Administration for the State ofNebraska, recently commented that “in the worldof justice we have to start thinking like a business, and in business you wouldn’t do things thatweren’t producing results. We do have to pay moreattention to the research so the results make senseand have positive impact, in particular as it relatesto recidivism. This is the wave of the future.”10Gaseau, M. (2006)2WHAT IS A SUCCESSFUL CORRECTIONALFACILITY?A successful prison is one that can demonstrate toits elected officials, public, press, correctional agencymanagers, staff, and offenders that all mission criticalareas are being addressed. Many corrections professionals say that their primary mission is to protect thepublic. However, they have yet to adopt the notionthat this mission includes preparing the offender forsuccessful return to society by providing programming that reduces the likelihood the offender willcommit more crimes.The determination of a successful facility includesthe provision of a safe and secure environment whereoffender quality of life meets basic welfare needs. Additionally, the successful prison must have programsthat prepare the offenders for reentry into society,thus protecting the public from further effects ofcrime upon the release of the offenders from custody.Finally, the successful prison must be accountable forand manage the scarce taxpayer provided resources toachieve the greatest impact, while continuously looking for innovative, efficient, and effective ways to improve service as well as identified outcome standards.INDICATORS OF A SUCCESSFUL FACILITYThe main areas of correctional facility performancecan be measured within four dimensions. Thesedimensions